*You Have to Stand for Something*
**By Phil Hall**
***I attended last year’s Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) convention in Chicago, but I needed to leave the event earlier than usual because of a family matter. My mother, who is a breast cancer survivor, was going through a very rough health patch and I had a pronounced apprehension that our time together would be speeding to a rapid conclusion.
****I am happy to say that last year’s worry will not be repeated. To paraphrase Dinah Washington, what a diff’rence a year makes. My mother recently had a mammogram and there is no cancer in her body. Her health during this past year has taken a turn for the better – to the point that she is beginning a new role (tutoring a computer class at her local seniors center) to add to her already active schedule, which includes volunteer work with the Visiting Nurse Association (VNA), for which she won a Volunteer of the Year Award earlier in the year.
****While I am grateful beyond words to see my mother in better health today, I am also strangely grateful that I had the courage to prioritize what was genuinely important to me last year. My employer at the time was fully aware of my family situation, but he was still incredibly pissy that I would not be covering the full convention; he even demanded that I pay for my own travel expenses to and from the airport in order to accommodate my separate travel needs. (The penny-pinching company believed that robust savings could be generated via carpooling rather than having its convention attendees – all three of us – travel independently.)
****Nonetheless, I stood my ground. I had a significant priority at the time that needed to be addressed, and I followed my principle to do what I thought was right. Really, there will be mortgage banking conventions for years and years to come, but a loved one trying to move beyond cancer only has a finite amount of time. (And contrary to initial corporate demands, I wound up not paying out-of-pocket for my travel expenses!)
****Admittedly, not everyone would do what I did. Too often, people are not willing to act according to principle.
****Within the mortgage banking industry, there has been endless fear and apprehension over an alphabet soup of rules and regulations that were enacted over the past three to four years. Many people in the industry are genuinely worried about how these changes will impact their operations – and we’ve seen the first wave of tremors through a large number of layoffs, mergers and acquisitions. If more people openly and vigorously lobbied against these changes when they were being formulated, there is an excellent chance that they would not have been put in place.
****Even worse, too many people in the industry are still afraid to openly challenge the non-elected bureaucrats that are attempting to crush the industry with these rules and regulations. You’ll have a better chance to find a dodo bird than to find a mortgage banking executive that is willing to go on the record to question the unquestioned authority of Richard Cordray or the unilateral manner in which Edward DeMarco is deconstructing the government-sponsored enterprises.
****I have no idea what is going to be addressed at this year’s MBA convention, but I would be elated if the industry’s leaders would finally open a frank discourse on how the regulatory climate and the antics from both sides of Pennsylvania Avenue are impacting the housing market – let alone the overall economy. This is no slur to the MBA and the speakers at past conventions, but the industry has been too polite in openly challenging political issues that ultimately have a disastrous effect on our lives.
****Standing up for what you believe in is never easy, and too often people get badly smacked for asserting their beliefs and living by their principles. But if you don’t pursue your priorities with vigor and assertiveness, you will wind up having your existence dictated by individuals or a system that have no great love for your feelings.
****Or as Aesop wisely noted so many years ago, “He that always gives way to others will end in having no principles of his own.”
Phil Hall has been (among other things) a United Nations-based radio journalist, the president of a public relations and marketing agency, a financial magazine editor, the author of six books and a horror movie actor. Also, as you will discover, he is not shy about stating his views.